The months of a standing firm that European captains would wear a One Love armband came to nothing yesterday as the respective FA’s backed down in the face of a threat that players who did so would be given a yellow card.

Our opinion piece became one of our most viewed stories of the year but our hope that Harry Kane would see the importance of what he could do for millions of LGBTQ+ football fans as more important than an individual sanction came to nothing.

We heard the argument put forward with genuine feeling that the individual players were there to do their job and should not be burdened with the responsibility of making a statement.

We disagree. If Harry Kane had made a personal stance yesterday he would have been booked but he would have made a never to be forgotten gesture of support that football is indeed welcoming to everyone regardless of race, colour, creed, or orientation.

He could have raised the spirit of millions of people and at a stroke changed the perspective of this World Cup and the view that the world has of him as an individual and his country and a football nation where values lead to action rather than just words.

He wore the FIFA-sanctioned armband as to his left the Iranian team steadfastly refused to sing their own national anthem in a protest of their own against the rights abuses taking place in their own country. Their fans joined in booing the anthem and unfurling a banner that was seen around the world.

The risk to players and fans is genuine and could be life-threatening on their return to the country. That is courage.

Harry Kane’, Gareth Bale’s and Virgil Van Dijk’s punishment would have been a yellow card. Harry Kane has picked up one of those every 8.6 games he has played for Spurs in the past three seasons. The risk to his picking up a second and being sent off is less in all likelihood than him picking up a knock and being withdrawn.

And even at that, he is one player in the squad. A second player could have taken the hit and then been substituted if that was so important an issue.

Fans were turned away for refusing to remove rainbow-decorated hats, without the protection afforded by global TV coverage.

BBC reporter Alex Scott wore the armband in her pitchside reporting, a gay woman in the spotlight willing to make a stand. Full credit to her.

The heat in this debate has been fuelled by the suggestion that being gay leads to the death penalty. The actual maximum penalty under state law is three years in prison and a fine. Nobody has ever been killed for breaking the admittedly still abhorrent laws.

Qatar is one of eight competing countries where same-sex relationships are illegal.

Accepting that countries have the right to make their own laws is part of a belief in self-determination. Having the freedom to debate and question those laws is another part.

There is a sense of Western entitlement to the rage that has surrounded this issue. If we want messages that we agree with, we may well be faced with having to put up with messages that we do not.

Digging deeper here perhaps the problem lay in the European countries making their stance and then saying they would stand publicly behind what they said.

Backing out at the last minute is arguably more damaging than never having stood up in the first place.

Certainly, if you are a gay man or woman that has long felt excluded from living your life in as open a way as your heterosexual teammates, you could have looked on this as a real moment of change.

You might have always been told that football was open but never fully believed that would be the case.

What can you possibly think now?

And yet this tournament has four weeks to run. If the Associations feel as if they have now taken their punishment they are wrong. There is still time for one of the six other nations who said they would wear the band to stand up and do the right thing.

There is still an opportunity for the players themselves to wear temporary tattoos’ outside the team kit.

There is still an opportunity, indeed an obligation to show that all the fine words were more than that, that football is welcoming.

Come on Football.